I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around something for a while now. There’s this vague feeling of unease and discomfort. Something is just not settling well. I haven’t been able to put my finger on it, but it’s been growing in size and intensity inside me. I’ve had glimpses and flashes of insight from time to time, but haven’t really gotten hold of whatever it is that’s bothering me.
It’s not like things aren’t going really well for me now. While it’s not the best job I’ve ever had, I am gainfully employed in an economic time when so many others are not. I’m doing my job well in a very stressful and fast paced environment. Social life has been going well also. I’m spending time with friends old and new, having some really good times doing things I enjoy, and working on being healthy and positive in relationships. But being alone isn’t a problem anymore either. I can be just as happy at home watching television or listening to music as I am spending time with others. And probably most important of all, I seem to have the bipolar illness in a manageable state.
So why am I uncomfortable?
My weekday activities have settled into a regular routine. I’ve never required much sleep, and I always wake up early; usually an hour or so before my alarm goes off at 5:00am. I spend that time in the mornings on the computer; checking email, reading the news, and exploring interesting sites I come across while I drink my coffee. Then it’s time for a quick shower, I prepare my lunch for the day to take with me, and make my bed and put away my clothes from the day before. Then I make one more cup of coffee to take with me on the 45 minute drive to work. Once there, I spend thirty minutes or so returning emails and organizing my work day. And some days, I write. Then it’s off to the cafeteria for another cup of coffee and I throw myself into the days’ tasks. We’re so overwhelmed with work now I usually don’t get up from my desk except for the occasional trips to the restroom or to other parts of the building to interact with other departments on whatever project I happen to be working on. The days are long, and it’s not unusual to put in 10 to 12 hours before I can make myself go home. Then it’s another 45 minute drive back to the house, where I respond to any emails again and microwave my dinner. (I’m a bachelor, I don’t cook). A glass of wine is poured, and I sit in my recliner with my cat and watch television until it’s time for bed.
Then I get up and do it all again.
Weekends are a little different. I still wake up before the chickens, but after I’ve gone through the emails and coffee it’s back to the couch for some more sleep. Lately that hasn’t exactly been the case as I’ve gone into the office on Saturdays just like any other day, but Sunday’s are always the same. I spend most of the day napping between doing things that have to be done around the house like laundry and cleaning. I do get to play some though. Evenings are when I socialize, both during the week and the weekend. And some Sundays are cookouts and wine; enjoying good jazz, watching an old movie or just enjoying someone’s company. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to some fabulous concerts lately too, which is something I really enjoy as music is paramount to my life. I have nothing to complain about. It’s all good, and it’s what I’ve strived for. Normalcy.
I’m living a balanced, even normal life. I’m doing all the things that I’ve worked for to maintaining my health, both mental and physical. I’m changing the way I see myself and how I interact with others. I’m working on relationships and applying lessons learned not to make mistakes I’ve always made in the past.
But something is not right.
I’m becoming more and more aware of my age. I have several friends who have completed their career and moved into retirement. I’m being offered senior citizens discounts at restaurants and hotels, even without asking. My hair is quickly going from gray to white and my body is definitely getting older. I can’t go and do like I used to, and I’m tired most of the time. My children are grown and having lives and careers of their own. I don’t think old, but I’m living that way. I’ve become my parents.
But that’s not what is really bothering me.
The feeling that has been nagging at me is starting to jell. There’s no point or purpose anymore. When I was starting out in my career, there was drive and a strong will to succeed. In the past there were marriages to work on, children to be raised, houses to maintain and all the things that go along with growing up and being an adult. Every day brought new challenges and there were things to be excited about and look forward to. And of course, there was dealing with being bipolar. It wasn’t always fun; in fact, it was a lot of hard work and misery, especially dealing with my illness. I can’t look back and say it was a fabulous time. There were also many hospitalizations and drug after drug trying to control my symptoms. I have spent most of my adult life in one type of therapy or another, and gone through some unbelievable pain. There were good things of course. I got great joy from my children. There was a lot of satisfaction to be had from being successful at my work. The days were filled with happiness, crises, passion and pain. The days were full.
My days are no longer full.
I stay busy. I have many times that are enjoyable. I do well at whatever I do. Every day I get just a little bit better at making myself healthy. I’ve learned a great deal about myself and have applied those lessons to improve myself.
But to what end?
The older I get, the faster the time slips away. When I was young, it seemed like forever waiting for the next day, or the next Christmas or Summer Vacation. Now, the weeks just fly by. Weeks turn into months, and months turn into years. It used to seem like I had a lifetime ahead of me; now I only see the end of a life. And what’s the result? I’m here today, I’ll be gone tomorrow. And in time it won’t make any difference at all. There are millions of people living the same life as I. We go through our motions, we do what has to be done, and we sometime touch others and even make a difference to some. But they will pass too, and then there’s nothing left. We don’t cure cancer, affect world politics, entertain the masses or write a bestselling novel.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s all inconsequential and absurd.
The problems that I deal with, the happiness that I enjoy, the progress that I make really don’t matter. I’m only important in my own little world, and that world will soon go away. I have nothing to leave behind to show that I was here. My life will have no lasting impact or meaning. I try to keep a positive outlook, but honestly, one day just bleeds into the next. And I’m feeling the finite number of those days. I don’t expect to go tomorrow, but in the blink of an eye it will all be gone. The successes, the fun, the pain and the suffering will all be for nothing.
So in a nutshell, that’s what has been digging at the back of my mind. I’ve become aware of my mortality.
And the pointlessness of it all.